Separatist forces from the war-ravaged Donetsk region claimed they had retaken several villages near Bakhmut, a Ukrainian-controlled industrial city. Bakhmut has been under Russian bombardment for weeks.
Bakhmut (Ukraine): Russian forces claimed Friday that they had captured Donetsk, east Ukraine. This was their first claim of new victories since the Kyiv counter-offensive, which rattled Moscow’s war efforts.
This announcement was made as Russia’s Orthodox leader stated that President Vladimir Putin’s rule was mandated by God. He also congratulated him on his 70th Birthday and as the Nobel Committee presented the Peace Prize to rights defenders from Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus.
Separatist forces from the war-ravaged Donetsk region claimed they had retaken several villages near Bakhmut, a Ukrainian-controlled industrial city. This town has been under Russian bombardment for several weeks.
AFP journalists gathered in Bakhmut heard heavy artillery and rocket launch sounds near the Bakhmutka bridge.
Separatist forces posted on social media that they had liberated Otradovka and Veselaya Dolina from Russian troops.
Russian forces invaded Ukraine in February to seize Donetsk, a region that has been held by Kremlin-backed separatists for years.
In recent weeks, however, the Ukrainian troops have been retaliating against Russian soldiers along the front lines in the east and south, including parts of Donetsk.
Late Friday, Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian President, stated that his forces had captured nearly 2,500 kilometers (965 miles) of territory in the counter-offensive which began late last month.
He stated that 776 kilometers of territory were liberated by our soldiers in the east of our nation and 29 settlements.
He has been pushing for Russia to be punished in other areas and urging Brussels to increase pressure on its energy sector, just a day after the EU placed new sanctions on Moscow.
Friday’s announcement by the International Monetary Fund was also made. It will provide emergency assistance to Ukraine in the amount of $1.3 billion.
According to a statement, the package will meet Ukraine’s urgent balance of payments while also playing a catalyst role for future financial assistance from Ukraine’s creditors.
Bakhmut residents saw black smoke columns after shells exploded south of the city. Whizzing projectiles also sent them fleeing.
Edvard Skoryk, a humanitarian volunteer, said that he was unable to return home to his home for two months.
The 29-year-old told AFP that “that (eastern part) of town has been severely hit… There are street fights every night.”
The lightning territorial gains of Ukraine in the east, and south have subverted a Kremlin claim last week that it annexed Donetsk.
These four territories form a vital land corridor between Russia, the Crimean peninsula, and Moscow, which was annexed in 2014. Together, they make up about 20 percent of Ukraine.
Kyiv, alone in Kherson, announced this week that it had captured 500 kilometers of territory — potentially trapping around 20,000 Russian troops along the Dnieper River’s western bank.
Moscow-appointed deputy head of the region claimed Friday that five civilians were killed by shelling by Kyiv’s forces. He also accused the Ukrainian military of firing on a bus transporting civilians.
The Russian drones attacked industrial sites in Zaporizhzhia, northeast of Kherson — the home of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant — killing 14 people.
Putin has repeatedly threatened to use nuclear weapons in the seven months since Russia invaded.
On Thursday, US President Joe Biden warned that the world is facing “Armageddon” because Putin could use his nuclear arsenal and Russian troops are fighting back against the counter-offensive.
The White House reacted to Friday’s alarm by stating that the comments of the president were not based on new intelligence.
According to the Interfax agency, Friday saw Russia’s court order the seizure of Memorial’s Moscow headquarters. This ruling came just hours after the rights group received the Nobel Peace Prize.
Memorial is Russia’s most well-known rights group. It has been documenting Stalinist crimes for many years. It was disbanded last year and co-awarded with Ales Bialiatski, a jailed Belarusian activist, and the Center for Civil Liberties in Ukraine.
The interior ministry labeled Oxxxymiron, a Russian rapper and superstar, a “foreign agent” Friday. Since the Kremlin sent troops into Ukraine in 2014, thousands of Russians have fled the country. The rapper has also organized concerts to support the refugees from Ukraine.
The list also included popular science fiction writer Dmitry Glukhovsky, feminist politician AlenaPopova, and Irina Strozheva, a journalist at Radio Free Europe/Liberty.
Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov called on Russian fighters Friday to give up their arms. He promised that their lives would not be lost and they would be safe.
Reznikov, speaking in Russian to the troops in an address video, said that Russia can still be saved from tragedy and humiliation.
He promised that he would guarantee “life, safety, and justice for all those who refuse to fight immediately”.